Corporate news outlets, which enjoy playing politics with decisions surrounding COVID-19, wanted to portray the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota’s Black Hills as a dangerous health event.
Before Sturgis opened, the Washington Post warned: “Sturgis Motorcycle Rally revs up, drawing thousands and heightening delta superspreader fears”; CBS News blared: “Sturgis motorcycle rally sparks fears of superspreader event.”
But akin to last summer, reporters didn’t get their wish. Two weeks after the gathering with more than a half-million attendees concluded, fewer than 200 cases have been attributed to the event.
Yet the media still reported Saturday that “nearly 4,000 people have been newly diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state,” before later explaining that a South Dakota Department of Health spokesman “declined to specifically link the Sturgis rally to the rising virus surge,” noting that only 39 COVID-19 cases “have been directly attributed to the rally.”
That such a small number of statewide cases came from Sturgis is great news and should be the lead. Instead Yahoo News declared the rally a superspreader a week ago, with no reference points.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Times claimed there were “scores of coronavirus cases recorded.” Scores? How many, and compared to what?
As for hard numbers, the United States averaged 276 new COVID cases per 100,000 people over 10 days ending the middle of last week, while the Mount Rushmore State averaged only 156.
Politics explains the misinformation.
South Dakota is a red state with an outspoken conservative governor who believes in freedom, follows data, and has challenged flawed narratives from media and federal health officials for 18 months.
Sturgis is also the quintessential American event with an older, right-leaning crowd. There was little media outrage when Black Lives Matter hooligans tore up most major cities last year or hundreds recently partied at former President Barack Obama’s island compound.
Will the insular media confess their errors to Gov. Kristi Noem or the hundreds of thousands who attended the annual gathering? You’re more likely to find oceanfront property in South Dakota or see Nancy Pelosi at the 2022 Sturgis rally.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.